Thursday, August 21, 2003

LoL#38: Lisa Baker & The Order of the Pheonix


Did you ever realize that everything matters to you when you're a kid? You can tell a class of fourth graders about the benefits of recycling and they'll all swear to never again throw a soda can in the trash but if you explain the same issue to high schoolers, they'll tell you that sometimes it's too inconvenient to hunt out a recylcing bin. Or when a nine year old discovers a dead bird on the sidewalk coming home from school. They'll usually either ponder some type of rescue effort, back away in horror, or with tearful eyes share the grisly scene with an adult. Same person a decade later might just as easily step over the carcass without a second thought or even kick it to the side so noone else treads on it. Kids are usually really good at being peacemakers too. They'll beg adults not to argue - wanting things to be right with the world and desiring happiness for everyone - only to grow up and find that they can wound and be wounded by words every single day. And children take joy in the smallest things too. Not only does everyone know what it's like to feel like "a little kid at Chrismas", but have you ever watched children on a playground? Those playing on the swingsets are sure that they have the ability to fly and even something as simple as blowing the fluff off of spring's first dandelions seems to be the most magical task in the universe.

I guess what I'm getting at is that there's a certain level of ideality, innocence, and sensitivity that we have as kids that this whole growing up process forces out of us. Now I'm not headed for nostalgia here. In fact, I think nostalgia may perhaps be one of the most fruitless emotions - truly it is a shame to miss out on the present or the future cause you're too busy longing for the past. But I guess lately there's a part of me that hopes I still possess a childlike heart. (And I'm not talking about being an optimist either. I know I've got that one down. In fact it could even be argued that I'm optimistic to a fault.....not that that's necessarily a bad thing....)

What I'm really trying to say is that I hope my life is always marked by taking joy in the good times and grieving in the sad times as well as a full experience and expression of everything in between. I'm not just saying this to give myself permission to be moody. See, I was culturing a tumor sample at work last week. The cells are actually growing too which means that our lab will have a new cell line to do research with. I knew when I took over the culture that it was a sample from a patient at Children's Memorial Hospital, but somehow the reality of what I was dealing with didn't quite sink in. Today though I learned the details. See, there's a four year old boy with tumors on his spinal cord. They operated on them last week and sent our lab a sample. But the tumors are spreading rapidly and actually growing toward the boy's spinal column. This means that he will most likely be paralyzed by five and will be considered a miracle if he sees the age of six.

Yeah. "Lisa On Life" is not always smiles, sunshine and funny stories, but truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way. I've decided too that this is why I can't become a doctor. I want to live a life where children dying of cancer breaks my heart. I think things like this SHOULD make me want to cry. I don't want to have to build up the type of emotional immunity where "after a while you get used to it" because "you can't let it bother you". And I want the emotions that I hold onto to fuel my passion for the work that I do and I want to find hope in the fact that someday there might be a cure and I even want to remain idealistic enough to believe that what I do today might even further that cause.

Now I'm sure at this point a few of you are very curious about the subject line of this e-mail but whether you're a Harry Potter fan or not, you might be familiar with the legend of the Pheonix. According to various lores and traditions, the Pheonix is a great bird that at the end of it's lifespan is engulfed in flames and once burned, rises again from it's own ashes. It sort of goes along with the whole point of #37 too that my life is rather circular these days, but even more so, I guess I want to live with a Pheonix-like heart. Pain and hurt and stress are always going to come - there is certainly plenty of evil in this world to engulf anyone's heart in extreme ache - but I want to always rise again and return to the hope that there is good in the world too. What it comes down too is that whether good or bad, I want to feel things in life. I'm reminded of the scene in Braveheart - and forgive me for not knowing the exact line and quote - where Robert da Bruce (brilliantly portrayed by Angus McFadyen) exclaims to his father "I don't want to lose heart!".

Anyhoo, I'm rambling and I really have to get back to work. Some of you, I know, will consider this the most introspective and inspiring LoL I've written. Others will delete it quickly because there's no hint of amusement to be found in it's overly lengthy content. To me, it's just some stuff I wanted to say.

Pheonixfully Yours,

lisa :)

p.s. Side note too is that this is also the first LoL that I've written directly all at once. Usually I'll start to compose and then hold it in my drafts box, editing here and there throughout the week. This time no drafts, no edits, just me being me. Forgive any and all tpyos. ;)

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